Even the spread of a deadly virus cannot mitigate CCP’s religious persecutions: numerous Three-Self churches were suppressed in the past few months.
by Li Mingxuan
On April 24, a Three-Self church in Weifang city in the eastern province of Shandong was razed to the ground. A local believer said that the European-style church, built in 2009 with the money donated by the congregation, was demolished because the authorities declared it an “illegal construction.”
To avoid believers’ protests, the demolition began at 5 a.m. that day, as police officers guarded the site. “It is such a pity that this nice church has disappeared,” a resident who witnessed the demolition said. “The government has gone insane!”
Video: The church in Weifang is being demolished.
The congregation member believes that the government ordered the destruction of the place of worship because it fears that the increasing number of Christians is threatening its rule. He also believes that crackdowns on Christians have intensified because of China’s worsening relations with the West. “Many Christians took to the streets during the protests in Hong Kong last year,” the believer said. “The government assumed that the United States incited them, so it now imposes stricter control over our faith and bans our gatherings.”
On December 22, a Three-Self church in Xieji town in the Liangyuan district of Shangqiu, a prefecture-level city in the central province of Henan, was demolished after months of persecution by the government and numerous failed attempts by the congregation to save it.
A church member told Bitter Winter that the local government ordered to shut down the church in August, but the congregation continued gathering. The authorities then pressured the church’s landlord to stop renting her property, accusing her of breaking the law. The threats proved ineffective, so local officials sent an excavator to make a hole in one of the church’s walls. The congregation mended the hole and resumed gatherings.
The congregation’s perseverance irritated the local government. In early December, the local Religious Affairs Bureau issued a notice to fine its director 20,000 RMB (about $ 2,800) and confiscate the church’s air-conditioners and other valuables. The church’s entrance was welded, leaving the congregation with no chance to get inside. Afterward, the local police arrested the director and detained her for half a month. During her detention, the church was razed to the ground.
Some churches managed to evade demolitions but had their crosses removed. In early April, a government official from Duchang county in Jiangxi’s Jiujiang city demanded the director of a local Three-Self church to remove its cross. He said that the church was “too eye-catching” because of its proximity to a highway, and this would not go well with an upcoming inspection by higher-ups.
On April 16, two government officials from Xishan town in the Xinjian district of Jiangxi’s capital Nanchang ordered the director of a local Three-Self church to remove its cross and erect a flagpole for the national flag.